Do you have a question about immigration services? Here are some frequently asked topics that might help answer them.
- Visa stamp expiration
- I-20/DS-2019 form expiration
- Passport expiration
- Student courseload
- Virginia driver’s license/ID card
- Applying for a Social Security number
- Working on campus
- Working off campus
- Family and friends visitation
- Transfer of credits
- Transfer to another school or university
A visa is issued to give you permission to enter the United States. You may only enter with a valid visa in your passport and a valid visa document (i.e. I-20 or DS-2019), if required by your status. The visa in your passport will often expire while you are in the U.S. If you must leave the U.S., you will need to apply for a new visa at the American consulate in your country. Visit the U.S. Department of State website to find out the consulate’s procedures before leaving to ensure you have all necessary documents.
For F and J visa holders: As long as your I-20 or DS-2019 is unexpired, you are fine. Should your current form be expiring, you must request a new I-20 or DS-2019 form. Be sure to allow at least 10 business days for your new form to be issued once all documentation is received.
You should request a new I-20 or DS-2019 form at least four weeks before it expires. Failure to request a new form in time will deem you out of status (i.e. illegal) and in need of reinstatement. If this should happen, make an appointment to see an adviser.
You are required to have a passport that is valid for at least six months into the future. If your passport will be expiring in the next year, contact your embassy to ask about their procedures.
Below is a list of the minimum courseload for each type of student:
- English Language Program and students who are taking concurrent ELP and academic classes: Your ELP adviser will instruct you on how many ELP hours and academic credits to take. You must follow those instructions.
- Undergraduate students: 12 credits
- Graduate students: 9 credits
If you must take less than the minimum credits, please submit a Reduced Courseload Request Form . Your request will be evaluated and you will be notified at your student Email account whether it has been accepted or not.
Immigration is very strict on this and your situation must fit into one of the seven situations detailed on the form. If you have read them all and find that you are still not sure, please contact us.
You must go through a specific procedure to obtain a driver’s license or Virginia state identification. Read the information on how to get an official state identification and submit the required documents.
Federal law dictates that only those F-1 students and J-1 visitor category “student” individuals who have a job are eligible for a Social Security number. There are no exceptions.
The University Career Center maintains a list of some of the available on-campus jobs. If you are unable to find information there, the best way to find an on-campus job is by checking with departments you are interested in working for. Be aware that if an employer requires an applicant to be eligible for work study, international students may not apply. Work study is a federal program for citizens.
After you have been offered a job, you will need to get a letter from your prospective employer to apply for a Social Security number. Bring that letter to our office and we will issue you an additional letter. Both of these letters need to be taken to the Social Security Administration office. Further information on that process will be given to you in the letter.
You may only work 20 hours a week while school is in session and 40 hours a week during the summer and university vacations.
Please refer to the following portions of the GEO-IS website for information regarding permission to be employed off-campus:
- F-1 Curricular Practical Training
- F-1 Optional Practical Training
- J-1 Student Academic Training
- F-1 Severe Economic Hardship
GEO-IS cannot write letters of invitation for your family or friends. However, we can write letters of good immigration standing for you. These have always aided in family or friends’ tourist visa applications. In order to get one, you can Email our office at email@example.com or come to the office and request a letter in person.
Pregnancy is generally not a valid reason for a reduced courseload. Unless documentation is submitted from the student’s physician that verifies there is a complication with a pregnancy that requires you not take a full courseload or any classes at all. This reason and a specific time frame for which reduced registration is required for the health of the mother and/or baby must be provided in a letter by the doctor on letterhead. This letter must be accompanied by the Reduced Courseload Request Form .
If you have questions regarding the transfer of credits from a previous institution, please contact Blair W. Brown in International Admissions.
If you wish to transfer to another school, you must submit the Transfer Out Clearance Form to Immigration Services. Please fill out the form carefully to ensure your legal status is maintained.